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Full Version: Ideas for a series of Novels (again)
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As some of you might know, I've been gathering research for a series of novels I'm planning to write. However, I can't decide wether it should be set during the time of Caesar or Marcus Aurelius.

I) The series set during the time of Caesar will be based around a few legionaries from Legio X Equestris, whilst giving an insight on the troubles faced by the commanders.

Originlly, one of my main characters was going to be a Centurion called Herennius - who ultimately would take part in the asassination of Cicero, along with one of my other characters, Poppillius. However, I'm not sure wether these characters could be in the Tenth Legion as the Tenth's veterans were settled in Narbo Maritus and Antonius' 'praetorian' bodyguard would have been made of veterans that had been settled in Campania.

I chose the Tenth Legion as it's one of Rome's most famous legions. It was Caesar's most trusted unit, it was the only legion (at first) prepared to follow Caesar against Ariovistus, it was mounted as his bodyguard (where it recieved its title), it saved the day against the Nervians, it took part in the invasion of Britain, its Aquilifer was one of the only men willing to disembark at the shores of Britain, it took part in Gergovia, Alesia etc... So there are BIG oppurtunities here to make a damn good plot. There are also other things the characters could get involved in, such as the betrayal of Dumnorix etc. so really, I'm spoilt for choice...

II) But the Marcomannic wars are very tempting for me aswell. There isn't a great deal known about them, but I think that could open up possibilities for a more creative story line. Perhaps a vexilation of Roman soldiers are ambushed by Germans and have to get back to the Roman lines? Pehaps I could re-create some of the scenes found on the Column of Aurelius? Maybe one of my characters has to rescue their family from danger when the Germans attack Aquilea?

I have many ideas for both. But I don't know which to choose? I suppose if I was to choose the story set in the time of Caesar I would have the Bellum Gallicum at my disposal and many other primary sources. But the only sources I have found useful on the Marcomannic Wars have been the Column of Aurelius itself and Cassius Dio, and there isn't that much of a clear picture concerning the soldiers of the Aurelian era.

Can anyone offer any help or any suggestions?

Grazie Mille,


Lorenzo
The problem with using the Caesarian era is that HBO's Rome pretty much covered that ground already - but it's a huge and fascinating period, with lots of dramatic incident, and a lot is known about what went on, so I wouldn't let that stop you. The problem with using X Equestris might be that people are liable to wave Stephen Dando-Collins in your face if you diverge from his fanciful reconstructions ( :roll: ) - your research could well be better than his, but many prefer to believe what they read in a non-fiction 'history' book, without checking the facts...

Antony's Praetorian Cohort could have included men from the tenth by the time of the proscriptions - he could easily have reformed the cohort anyway prior to his meeting with Octavian and the formation of the triumvirate, and the tenth had joined his army by then. You'd be missing out on Mutina and Forum Gallorum, and all the good dramatic stuff in Rome before this though. Could your character have been a legionary in the tenth, promoted to centurion in another legion around Pharsalus, in time to be 'retired' to Campania? Alternatively, there's no reason why a retiree in Narbo Martius should stay there - he could have got bored with 'civilian' life after a few months and headed back to Rome looking for fun/adventure/a chance to avenge the murder of Caesar/whatever - the great thing about fiction is that you don't have to provide footnotes or references! If what you're describing fits with the story and doesn't contradict historical facts, you can do it.

There are, however, a lot of Roman army novels and films around at the moment, and you'd have to make yours pretty distinctive if it's going to work. I'd say the 'cut off behind enemy lines' story idea might be getting a bit hackneyed now - very similar to a lot of other 'military fiction' novels from various eras. Be careful about confusing a good plot with a good story - a sequence of interesting historical events can make a plot, but stories are about characters and how they interact with the world they inhabit. The best idea might be to think of a really good, original story and a set of characters first, then consider which period they would fit best. Beyond that, though, just go with whatever excites you most!

Regards - Nathan
From what I've read, Augustus didn't trust the X Equestris because of their part in the rebellion with J. Caesar. He had formed a Tenth of his own for the wars against Antony (in which the LXEq had sided against him and with Antony), Owing to a naval/marine battle at the straits of Sicily/Southern Italy, he called them Leg X Fretensis, and renamed the other Tenth "Gemina".

What about a detailed story of the huge undertaking in the siege of Alesia and/or Numantia, told from the viewpoint of one of the soldiers in the mud with shovel and basket, twisting ropes and felling trees for fortification towers, etc. We usually see very superficial descriptions of those things. You could perhaps include friendships, rivalries, and strife between men in the unit. All we seem to see for the most part is a general unit bond, and all for one attitude. It's hard to imagine that there weren't people that one soldier or other just didn't like to be around, for any of a hundred reasons, and how that played into the battle sequence, along with the day to day drudge of digging yet another trench or field of lillies....
Quote:What about a detailed story of the huge undertaking in the siege of Alesia and/or Numantia, told from the viewpoint of one of the soldiers in the mud with shovel and basket, twisting ropes and felling trees for fortification towers, etc. We usually see very superficial descriptions of those things. You could perhaps include friendships, rivalries, and strife between men in the unit. All we seem to see for the most part is a general unit bond, and all for one attitude. It's hard to imagine that there weren't people that one soldier or other just didn't like to be around, for any of a hundred reasons, and how that played into the battle sequence, along with the day to day drudge of digging yet another trench or field of lillies....

That's a very useful suggestion. I think such things would make very interesting stories. My intention is to take the p.o.v. of a soldier and then have various small chapters that take he p.o.v. of the general, to give the reader the bigger picture.
Quote:The problem with using the Caesarian era is that HBO's Rome pretty much covered that ground already

Yes, true. However, I think with each episode the deeds of Pullo and Vorenus become less and less believable. And also I think that when the programme began to take its attention off the army it became boring. For example, the battle of Pharsalus lasted a few seconds which was quite disappointing and it was one of the most important battles in the whole campaign. I think it became more about 'conspiracy' and grand love-affairs rather than the lives of normal citizens.
The trouble was HBO doesn't stand for HISTORY Box Office.
Quote:Yes, true. However, I think with each episode the deeds of Pullo and Vorenus become less and less believable. And also I think that when the programme began to take its attention off the army it became boring. For example, the battle of Pharsalus lasted a few seconds which was quite disappointing and it was one of the most important battles in the whole campaign. I think it became more about 'conspiracy' and grand love-affairs rather than the lives of normal citizens.

I agree. I didn't mean in terms of you writing it, actually, but in terms of publishers publishing it and readers reading it - you might find people relating your work too closely to something they've seen on TV. Something to bear in mind, that's all. But if you can present a better or more interesting take on the period, by all means do!

- Nathan
For the themepark, we also did some storylines for an accompanying series. Because this is Roman Army Talk, this may be a shock, but I think there are already a lot of books about blood and gore and the life of a grunt/centurion/legate, but few that are interesting enough for a wider public, depicting everyday life and social interactions, even outside the army (yes, tunic draped footsloggers, there is whole world out there!).
Quote:yes, tunic draped footsloggers, there is whole world out there
Confusedhock: :!:
No need to be shocked! I was refering to the soldiers of yesteryear, who must have discovered it was not all barracks and drill all of the time and would have interacted with the local community, too. Plenty of material for stories there, aside from the odd militairy adventure. Ceasars time would have been more violent, as he trekked through a whole country subdueing the locals, so that would have been a lot of marching and fighting for sure.
Quote:No need to be shocked! I was refering to the soldiers of yesteryear, who must have discovered it was not all barracks and drill all of the time and would have interacted with the local community, too. Plenty of material for stories there, aside from the odd militairy adventure. Ceasars time would have been more violent, as he trekked through a whole country subdueing the locals, so that would have been a lot of marching and fighting for sure.

Yes, there is a section when the soldiers are at Vesontio before they march against Ariovistus. There will be a few events occuring there. It will also be a good place to demonstrate the loyalty of the legion as they were the only one willing to fight Ariovistus. Obviously, we can't make a generalisation as there were obviously soldiers in the LEG.X. that were opposed to going. But that could be an interesting feature in the plot.
Quote:No need to be shocked! I was referring to the soldiers of yesteryear
Whew! For a minute there, I thought you were talking about us modern day reenactors...glad you cleared this up!
Rest easy! As one who regularly dons a tunic and portrays either an archer, a Batavian aux and not to forget a marketeer/traveling smith peddeling firesteels, knives, arrowheads and spearheads from a shoulder slung basket wearing a floppy straw hat (my favourit civilian impression!), I have no beef with any tunic draped footsloggers, be they ancient or present time. The grunts in any army are the salt of the earth and worthy of respect, although I deeply wish they could all be permanently out of work as of yesterday.
Well, I'm not going to hide the fact that I'm a huge fan of Marcus Aurelius, but I think that this time period could be very interesting. You have a giant power that has grown mature and is somewhat world-weary. After long periods of peace and prosperity there is once again a real threat of external danger, shattering complacency. The great plague sweeps through, furthering shaking what many had believed was a stable, predictable world. One of the heros of the eastern wars rises in a (perhaps mistaken) revolt against a loved leader. Citizens have become jaded against traditional religion and have turned to new eastern cults and Christianity to find meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. And, of course, there are many opportunities for swashbuckling adventure.

I think you could do a lot with this time frame.
Quote:I think you could do a lot with this time frame.

Yes I agree, that's why I'm sort of 'torn' between the two... I think the state of the Empire under Aurelius would provide a very good storyline and make way for a flood creativity...but I think that the Caesarian era has more potential as a series. There are piles of primary sources out there, one being Caesar's Commentries (even though it's propaganda - concerning intention and reasons etc.).

The only useful sorce on the Aurelian era for me (as of yet) has been Cassius Dio. It's a lot harder to get the facts right with the military too, mostly because there is much solid evidence because, unfortunately, we don't know all that much concerning the army of the era. I'm trying to get my hands on as much info as possible, though, because I really do have a firm belief in a story set during the reign of Aurelius/Verus/Commodus.

Grazie e Buona Fortuna,

Lorenzo
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